Apparently it’s Geek Pride Day; I was only aware of this because of the errant tweets I saw coming across my various Twitter accounts. I have really mixed feelings about this kind of self-appointed holiday. Much like when people talk about “Well, when’s WHITE history month?”, the idea of geeks celebrating a special day for them when they’ve managed to enjoy their exclusion comfortably every day of the year due to their own resourcefulness is hilarious. Geeks don’t need a special day set aside because if you are a self-professed geek, you live every day like that. Secondly, the idea of “pride” in being a geek feels shitty to me.
Leigh Alexander set out some really on-point feelings on geek culture but the biggest rock stuck in my craw over the idea of geek identity or having pride in it is just how fucking awful geek culture and how exclusionary it is. It’s still constructed and oriented towards one audience and one audience only: straight cis-gendered white men. The enforcement and policing that goes on towards anyone who isn’t that is incredible. Women have to constantly “prove” how nerdy or geeky they are to be accepted, PoC aren’t even considered nerds and don’t forget about how much you get harassed if you trans, queer/gay, or even have disabilities and try to perform as part of geek culture. Face it, a lot of us who’d be called nerds or geeks and got harassed in high school are still living out the same bullshit day in and day out from the people who were supposed to understand. By this notion alone, it is easy to see where privilege insects heavily into geek culture because it isn’t divorced from our society, as much as geeks want to pretend it is.
So this is my feelings on Geek Pride Day: that geek pride is toxic. It’s not going to stop being that until it stops espousing the same bullshit everyone does. I cannot tell you how much my life has sucked participating in geek culture, especially gamer culture. I’ve been harassed, threatened and driven out of nerd enclaves because I’m a woman. I’ve had my identity questioned and fetishized because I’m bisexual. My interests, which should be tantamount, are meaningless because I’m commodified and sexualized on a regular basis just due to my gender and sexual preferences. Geek culture asserts falsely that everyone is valuable because we’re all alike in our nerdiness and forgets to mention that the background to this is largely masculine, white and obsessive. It’s a trap, simply put.
If you want to feel a sense of community in this culture, then clean your shit up, nerds. Put your money where your mouth is. Make geek culture a great place to be, where we can all safely and happily discuss our love of Warcraft or build circuit boards. Stamp out harassment of women, increase visibility of PoC, kick the fucking slurs from your language, stop making rape jokes, build video games that are accessible and stop shitting all over people that don’t fit your stupid geek identity. Embrace and build a geek culture that includes everyone in a healthy, positive way.
Until then, you have nothing to be proud of.